View Full Version : Re-Entry After Trail -- Job & Life Planning

10-01-2018, 20:09
Hello! It's been awhile since I posted but I wanted to come back here since the AT was my first long distance hike. Not only was it a great experience but I learned what to do and what not to do before, during, and after my hike.

After my thru hike in 2011, it took me almost an entire year to find a job. Now that I am eyeing another long distance hike, I am curious if anyone would be willing to share things that they did to attempt to make their "re-entry" post hike any easier. PS - this time I would quit my current job instead of being unemployed before my hike.

I'll read anything anyone is willing to share. Anything from... trying to line up a job before you leave and finish the trail before you start the job, putting out feelers to friends, relatives, prospective employers in an area(s)/field(s) you want to work, throwing caution to the wind and worrying about it after you finish (I found this didn't work too well for me), etc.


10-01-2018, 21:54
Do you have a skill which is in demand during this period of low unemployment? If so, don't worry about it. An employer who needs help needs it now, not some time in the future, so lining up a job well in advance might not be easy.

10-02-2018, 08:11
You may want to add a bit more info about industry/ability to move, etc, or if it's just whatever job you can get. If you're not fixed to one location or your skill is in demand right now, then it should be fine to just not worry about it.

In addition to your skill being in demand, most employers are reluctant to hire someone whose resume is all over the place. If you've worked somewhere for several years since your last hike, you will be more employable in an ongoing position. If your resume looks like you do a few months of everything.... then you'll have trouble picking something back up if they want you to stick around

Of course it's not a bad idea to take a couple neros when you're near done and start spamming some e-mails to connections and sending out some resumes. But you have to make sure your approach is right. ie: you're applying for something that your resume make sense for and in a region that it's actually needed! Before being away from computers, I used to make sure my resume was actually how I wanted and I had some readily accessible stock cover letters that I could edit very quickly and fire off.

10-02-2018, 23:58
I'm a serial LD hiker.

I've connected many parts of my trail life to off trail life. There are many carry overs which personally apply. This makes transitions between the two less dramatic. For example: 1) Maintaining a minimalist less culturally dependent UL on trail life maintaining a high degree of physical fitness and health carries over to a non materialistic questioning consumption minimalist what I deem somewhat healthful opportunistic off trail life style. I live both lives with intention - conscientious questioning planning and discipline of choices - Choosing a LIFE -CREATING A LIFE - being innovative rather than letting life's conditions being primarily foisted upon oneself out of complacency, ignorance, waking up to it, or, because that's the cultural standard of "normalcy." I've learned to say "no" to some things, to intentionally embrace other things...creating a LIFE I OWN...I choose. It has not been easy or painless. It has meant redefining what is meant to live...to be successful...to be happy. For example, one PT residence is a sub 300 sq ft self built Hawaiian Tiny House...that can contain all my possessions. Some would say it's a glorified banana shack. Well, that "banana shack" allows me to not be burdened by a 30 or 40 yr mortgage and allows experiences and traveling that most only wish for or dream about, possibly in retirement or 2 wks out of every 52. I try not to get emotionally attached to material goods though including outdoor gear. As another example, although I amass food for hikes up to 18 months before the intended LD hike the vast majority I eat at home too. As another example, I walk to accomplish off trail tasks like grocery store shopping with a pack or ride a hybrid bike to and from work...in the rain...in the cold...in the dark. I'm always connected to planning for and actually realizing another traveling or outdoor experience. It has to be more than a pie in the sky one day maybe it'll happen wish upon a star type affair! It assists to know and respect others that do the same...that make it happen. 2) I connect my career as a Landscape Designer, horticulturalist, Organic grower, and Naturalist, as well as philanthropic endeavors to both on and off trail. This brings aspects of trail life, including what I've learned and experienced, being outdoors, to off trail life. 3) I sometimes(often) work in one of those impassioned capacities while on LD hikes. For example, I might immerse myself in learning all I can about native regional plants or volunteer for two so called "zero days" at a Botanical Garden or Cooperative Extension Service Master Gardening Project while on trail or I might take time off, like a few days, in the middle of a LD hike to create or finalize designs. It also greatly assists that my off trail careers are centered around piece work or shorter duration projects like 3-6 month grows(perennials, annuals, natives, palms, ornamental grasses, etc). I'll also take off trail projects on that help establish new nurseries. Doing this also helps make contacts for future work. It makes for a much greater diversity of job opportunities. Getting work is not an issue. It doesn't hurt that family members are real estate developers which I can always step into in a work capacity in my fields. It greatly assists that my varied but connected careers are chosen passions NOT beasts of burden jobby type jobs to "pay the bills." When others observe you're passionately competent and able to inspire others they will be drawn to your abilities and endeavors. 4) I avoid overburdening financial debt 5) I sold a Landscape Design and Contracting biz and stepped into a different life 13 yrs ago. I'm so glad I did.

As Heather Andersen "Anish" states, "It is not easy or painless to take control of your own destiny...having the courage(and mindfulness) to write your own fairy tale each and every day...YOU defining success...redefining what happily ever after means. That is worth living." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgDeh2XDNY4

I know of quite a few hikers that take seasonal work or connect their hiking to careers i.e.; NP Rangers, Foresters, Wilderness Workers, Hiking Guides, Naturalists, photographers, outdoor writers(who says outdoor writing is dead?), web site developers, science teachers/professors, engineers, construction workers, environmentalists, Botanists, Biologists, entrepreneurs, Hostel workers, etc. Vice versa I know of those who connect their LD hiking to off trail pursuits that keep them connected and ease transitioning. Some stay connected with and afford a traveling or backpacking lifestyle by offering some paid for connected services or goods. Some are involved in outdoor gear manufacturing. I know of more than a few who do take short term jobby type jobs living exceptionally frugal during their off trail durations in order to hike.

Carpe Diem.

10-03-2018, 09:35
If you are able to do distance hiking, then you should be able to work construction - willing would be the question

I have quit / asked for lay about 40 jobs in the last 10 years while traveling for work around the US (including Delaware) and Canada - this is common enough that the same companies will take you back when they are hiring

like after every slump in the business there is now some shortages of labor ( of course not in areas where the pay is highest)

best thing is, if you live cheap you can make your living in about 6 months of overtime jobs and hike / goof off the rest of the year

10-03-2018, 10:40
Get a skill that is in demand in an industry with high-turnover. A good welder, truck driver, nurse, plumber, or electrician would have not problem quitting a job for 6 months and then finding another one as soon as they finish their hike. You may have to invest some time in training (community colleges are great!) and maybe an apprenticeship but a gig like that would give you a lot of flexibility and a good income while you are working.

10-03-2018, 12:10
Here's where some go wrong after their LD hikes IMH respectful opinion as they attempt to re-enter what they had left. They assume they will re-enter their off trail lives without realizing their perhaps months of hiking living outside out of cultural, national, and regional norms - living and learning "abnormally" - I call it sobering up - traveling - traveling LD by foot - hasn't changed them including their values, beliefs, thinking patterns, perspectives, CHOICES etc. If you read the last page of AT Journeys Newsletter it has contained hiker's, especially LD hikers' - AT thru hikers' -, accounts of what they learned after months on a hike and how they were now re-entering off trail life with New Perspectives. If LD hikers do that transitioning would be less dramatic.

This is what Mark Twain was referring to when he said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

John Muir also knew it:

“Few places in this world are more dangerous than home. Fear not, therefore, to try the mountain passes. They will kill care, save you from deadly apathy, set you free, and call forth every faculty into vigorous, enthusiastic action.”

“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news.”

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”

Richard Louv has something to say about it too: “Time in nature is not leisure time; it's an essential investment in our chidlren's health (and also, by the way, in our own).”
― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorde (https://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/3210060)

I 100% agree with Richard Louv. Time in Nature is not vacation or leisure time. It is vital to our well being.

The Japanese know it: http://www.shinrin-yoku.org

Native Americans know it.

The Celtics knew it.

Polynesians know it.

Our close connection to Nature has deceptively, without us fully realizing it, or questioning it, especially us fully questioning the consequences, has been replaced with a connection to the economy - the flow of money... which we also don't fully question the consequences.


We have choices to make. Make them conscientiously, with intention. With humility, have the courage to question the answers, the dictated norms, to break away, to each day do something unfamiliar, that scares you. - Dogwood

10-22-2018, 14:03
Connect with your true life flow.

If it ends up as hiking - so much the better.

10-22-2018, 23:34
if you can be comfortable being uncomfortable....

you don't have to re-enter anything.

nor do you have to work.

you will easily find non-illegal ways to get by. you will be hungry. you will be full. you will be desperate. people will stare...but just stare back. and smile.

and yes, yes...in this f-ed up world, no one will care for your health and you will not have healthcare. what this means is that when you get (disease x), you will die. but you will have lived.


...everything dies.

10-23-2018, 14:08
^ I know everybody has a different worldview, but if you feel like such a fringe lifestyle is necessary to truly live, I would recommend some serious reflection about your definition of living. I mean, I'm a firm believer in not allowing "society" to define success for you, but are all forms of subsistence so unsatisfying that it's better to literally die of a treatable illness? Just saying, if a friend or family member expressed that kind of nihilistic thinking to me, I would be concerned.

Aaaaaanyway, regarding the OP, there definitely seems to be pros and cons to both having a job lined up after a hike and searching for a new job afterward. I quit my job before, confident that I would be able to find one after finishing. My boyfriend (who I met on the trail) was able to take 6 months of unpaid leave from his programming job, so he went back to work a week after finishing. Now, less than three weeks after Katahdin, I'm not sure which of the two of us is struggling more. I've applied for about 8 jobs so far and I've had a few interviews, and I'm hoping to have an offer by the end of this week, but it turns out, applying for jobs does not take a lot of time. It was only a few hours total to find listings, polish off my c.v., and write a few cover letters. It's hard to be patient enough to wait to hear back, when my impulse is to apply for more, and more, and take the very first one that I can get, because I want to do something! Being idle for just a couple weeks is driving me completely crazy, and I envy my boyfriend for already being busy at work again. But he's already feeling frustrated about the daily grind and people in his life not understanding the effect of the hike on his perspective, priorities, etc. He thinks I'm the lucky one, having the freedom to figure out a better fit for the post-thru-hike version of myself.

To the OP, since you've already done a thru-hike and you know that what you did last time was a struggle for you, maybe try a different approach. Talk to your current employer about whether they would consider unpaid leave, so you have something already lined up. Or plan in a few zeros toward the end of the thru to apply for jobs for afterward. I chose to wing it, knowing my field is in high demand, and even though I don't think I'll have to wait much longer, I'm halfway out of my mind.

10-23-2018, 20:18
Being idle post 2200 mile hike is a good way to put unhealthy body wt back on. Better ratchet down your daily calories. If ya consumed a junk food diet pre hike and it contributed to an unhealthier over wt condition, continued adhering to such a diet on the thru-hike, what might the result be post thru hike, while ya also aren't no where as physically active?

10-24-2018, 00:38
[QUOTE=KnightErrant;2226336]^ I know everybody has a different worldview, but if you feel like such a fringe lifestyle is necessary to truly live, I would recommend some serious reflection about your definition of living. I mean, I'm a firm believer in not allowing "society" to define success for you, but are all forms of subsistence so unsatisfying that it's better to literally die of a treatable illness? Just saying, if a friend or family member expressed that kind of nihilistic thinking to me, I would be concerned.

enjoyed your post.

fyi, i'm not nihilistic. i'm factualistic. everything dies. rather than having tubes in me and $hitting myself, i'd rather die. not a death wish at all. just an admission.


i just don't see life as having a job so i can pay for heat or internet or q-tips or insurance for my supplementary health insurance that will find a way not to cover me anyhow.

think of jimmy. jimmy, whom i'm making up, spent 30 years fixing vacuum cleaners. he had all his ira/501/whatevers in place. he dreamed of retirement and traveling. he died three days before he retired. and even if he hadn't, he blew out his hip and wouldn't have been able to travel anyway. his retirement would have been on a couch watching people's court.